The Shriver Report – A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From The Brink

Special Edition


Released January 12th, 2014

A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink examines the rates of financial insecurity among American women and the children who depend on them, investigates the impact of it on our nation’s institutions and economic future and promotes modern solutions to help women strengthen their financial status.

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Jan. 15, 2014 The Atlantic Presents The Shriver Report Live
Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar
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Chapters and Essays
The Workplace
The Family
Why We Must Push Back
The Nation Reimagined
Public Solutions
Private Solutions
Personal Solutions
It's Time to Push Back
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Facts and Graphs

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink team is composed of media, political and cultural strategists, writers and producers who have a proven record of shining a bright light on cutting-edge issues in the mainstream of American culture.

Maria Shriver

Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Maria Shriver Headshot - 2012

Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to
2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation’s premier forum for women, The Women’s Conference. Shriver’s work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change — people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution.

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Praise for the Report

“The Shriver Report offers a vital, and timely, exploration of how the modern American economy is failing millions of women and their families. Its portrait of the insecurity faced by these families ought to stimulate policy debate about basic economic security and fairness; and its suggestions for change — ranging from discussions around personal responsibility through to large-scale shifts in what sorts of services government delivers and how — will certainly catalyze conversations both at the community level and also in the halls of power. This is an important addition to our national dialogue on poverty and economic insecurity.”

– Sasha Abramsky, Freelance journalist, Senior fellow at Demos, and the author, most recently of The”American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives”

“The Shriver Report provides an overview of the most pressing concerns for struggling American women and children today. These women’s issues must be central to our national conversations and policy development in all areas, because societies are stronger when women are personally, politically, and economically empowered. This report’s thorough data analysis, personal testimonials, and pragmatic solutions will be invaluable to those who, like Maria Shriver, seek to further that cause.” 


“I commend the Shriver Report for exploring the critical issues facing women in America today and for doing so with such a broad lens. The report comes at an important juncture for our country and with Maria’s leadership it will shape a much needed conversation about how we can collaborate for the benefit of women, families and our nation.”

– Melody Barnes, CEO, Melody Barnes Solutions, Vice Provost for Global Student Leadership Initiatives & Senior Fellow, Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University

“Fighting poverty, in large part, requires facilitating the success and upward mobility of women as workers, leaders and caregivers, and then protecting their position in the middle class once they get there.  On the 50th Anniversary of the announcement of the War on Poverty, the Shriver Report accurately describes the issues women face and identifies a wealth of solutions for a new era of nationwide effort and progress.”

– John Bouman, President & Advocacy Director, The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

“Once again, The Shriver Report examines a critical issue facing women, families and communities. As was seen with  A Women’s Nation Changes Everything and A Women’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s the Shriver team sheds light on the enormous challenges while also examining potential solutions.” 

– Dr. Maria Carrillo, Vice President, Medical & Scientific Relations, Alzheimer’s Association

“Wherever inequality exists, there is a net loss on both sides of the ‘equation.’  The Shirver Report gives us another tool for crafting solutions in this area, but tools are only as good as the uses we put them to – so let’s make the most of this new opportunity!”

– Majora Carter, Major General, USAF (Retired)

“The Shriver Report encourages young women to use a new set of tools and skills to meet the demands of the modern era — that includes financial literacy — and to see themselves as providers for their future families. It is this kind of practical approach that makes The Shriver Report a must-read for educators, mothers, girls and journalists alike.”

– Jean Chatzky, American financial journalist, author and motivational speaker, and financial editor for NBC’s Today Show

“The Shriver Report is far more than a social report on the economic quality of life available to the  millions of women and children who live in poverty. It is as much a spiritual call to churches and congregations everywhere to preach the full humanity and gifts of women as well as their maternity.  Women who live  in violence or are paid less than men do for the same work need justice as well as a kind of pseudo-equality, spiritual affirmation of their essential worth as well as jobs, recognition of the gifts, the needs, the valor of women as human beings as well as spiritual patronizing of their role as mothers. That’s the kind of foundation this great work requires all of us to see– I could not applaud it more. “

– Sister Joan Chittister, Speaker & Author: Following the Path: The Search For a Life of Passion, Purpose and Joy, Co-Chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women

“More than almost any other publication, The Shriver Report can teach readers about the world’s changing relationship with its female population. The Report helps us reconsider how to support women in an ever changing economy and celebrate that women are emerging as leaders and visionaries in all areas of society.  I am excited to be a part of spreading the word of The Shriver Report and to advocate its continued success.”

– Kelly Coffey, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, JP Morgan Chase Bank

“Today women’s contribution to the world economy is very significant because of our dynamic skills, capability, principles, passion and compassion to serve our family, business and community.  Thanks to Maria’s leadership and her tireless effort in recognizing and embracing the power of women – the “hidden jewel” of our society – to make positive impacts to our country and the world for better.”

– Weili Dai, Co-Founder, Marvell Technology Group, Ltd.

“The Shriver Report gives us the opportunity to look into the real life struggles that millions of women and children are facing in America today. I am proud to support Maria Shriver in our shared commitment to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

– Geena Davis, Academy Award winning Actor and Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

“Nearly fifty years after Sargent Shriver led the War on Poverty, it is important that we return attention to Americans struggling financially. Women are increasingly heading American households, and they need to be a focus during our economic recovery. The Shriver Report sheds light on endemic causes of economic inequality that are too serious to ignore.”

– Mark DeSaulnier, California State Senator

“The Shriver Report is an important step in the direction of elucidating not just who is “living on the brink” but why. The research reinforces that becoming a healthier and more productive nation starts with the most basic of needs – food, job, home – and it reminds us that to truly improve the health and quality of life for all Americans, we must focus our efforts not on the outcomes, but the drivers of poverty.”

– William H. Frist, M.D., Former Senate Majority Leader

“Whenever anyone sits down to write, work, or review a piece of women’s policy, they should always keep a copy of The Shriver Report at hand.”

– Austan Goolsbee, PhD, Economist & Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

“When women succeed in the labor market, everybody wins: our families, our communities and our nation’s economic health.  Yet despite this fundamental truth, too many women still struggle in the shadows of our economy.  A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink argues cogently that together we can—and must—build a more inclusive economy that reflects the value and dignity each woman brings to her work.”

– Maya harris, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Law School, and Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

“Women have made great strides in the work place and in education, but they are still far more likely than men to be stuck in low-wage jobs and struggling to provide for their families. As a nation, we must accept that if we fail women, we fail children, families and communities. This report shines a bright light on the tragic irony of women’s many advances, and, more importantly, offers real solutions for how we ensure more women have access to the educational, financial and work opportunities that are so crucial to bridging the economic divide.”

– Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU

“One of the things I am most proud of is enabling women to become entrepreneurs with flexible schedules. The Shriver Report outlines real business solutions that work, enabling more women to become independent in supporting themselves and their families. It’s my hope that businesses leaders will utilize the Report to redevelop their policies with a focus on women.”

– Jessica Herrin, CEO & President, Stella & Dot

“Maria’s ability to reach across political and social barriers and deliver germane reports on today’s most pressing issues speaks to her leadership and understanding of these transformative topics.  I hope that leaders in all classifications across the country delve into this latest report.  The concept of “having it all” has evolved in my lifetime and it is imperative that we recognize the challenges women continue to face.  This Shriver Report will be thought provoking and discussed from the classroom to the boardroom.”

– Patricia Kempthorne, Founder & President, The Twiga Foundation

“50 years ago, Sargent Shriver created Head Start to provide families like mine with an education, health care, social services, and the means to thrive.  Today, Maria Shriver recognizes that breaking the cycle of poverty requires us to empower parents and children to make the life changes that will enable them to succeed. The Shriver Report shines a light on the millions of women and children still struggling to make ends meet and what it takes for them to break out of the cycle.”

– Almeta Keys, M.Ed, DCHSA & Region III President & Executive Director of ECMPCC, Inc.

“Maria Shriver never does anything halfway. The first two Reports were very detailed, very intense. She lays it out in such a way that you will learn something that you didn’t know before. So January, here we come! Maria, bravo!”

– Gayle King, Co-anchor of CBS This Morning and Editor-at-large for O Magazine

“As women seek out higher and better educational opportunities, they will pass these values onto their children, and women’s empowerment will continue to grow. I applaud The Shriver Report for its comprehensive portrayal of the status of American women today and its emphasis on investing in education for women and children.”

– Wendy Kopp, CEO & Co-Founder, Teach For All and Founder & Chair, Teach For America

“AARP applauds The Shriver Report for spearheading a national conversation about women and financial security.   For so many women today — working two jobs, fretting about retirement, worrying about caregiving responsibilities and living alone into their elder years – day to day challenges squash opportunities for a better job, a better work-life balance or a more secure future.  By engaging our nation in this conversation, we can find commonsense solutions that will strengthen women, families and our nation as a whole.”

– Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President of State & National Group, AARP

“Poor self-esteem and negative body image take an incalculable toll on girls’ confidence and future potential. We are working to expand the definition of beauty beyond an unhealthy, unrealistic ideal, and help girls believe that their value comes from their character, skills and attributes.  The issues and solutions in The Shriver Report will empower girls, making them more confident and strengthening their lives.”

– Samantha Levine, Director, New York City Girls Project

“In employment, in the courts, and in so many other areas of our society, women still experience appalling levels of discrimination. The Shriver Report makes sure that the facts about the well-being of women stay on the national agenda – through research, through publishing, and through advocacy. I’m honored to be associated with this good and needed work.”

– Brian D. McLaren, Christian Pastor, Author, Activist & Speaker

“The Shriver Report allowed me to put my own life in perspective and apply the lessons I learned to affect positive change in our society. In my Women’s and Genders Studies course, we observed changing economic conditions and their subsequent effects on households much like my own. Reading different sections was like hearing someone else retell situations I had experienced. With the support of its in-depth, up-to-date and poignant analysis, The Shriver Report uses statistics to present female progression in America as an ever-improving process, with many hurdles left to face.”

– Calvin Millien, Student, Georgetown University

“Economic security and life prosperity should be attainable to all, and not a lottery system that leaves so many out. When we offer critical life ed lessons to moms and teens, we will create cycles of opportunity that pass down through generations.”

– Anne Mosle, Vice President at the Aspen Institute Executive Director of Ascend

“Women and girls are the single largest untapped resource in the world. The Shriver Report brilliantly outlines the current state of women’s lives and offers solid ideas for tapping this resource and our future.”

– Christiane Northrup M.D., Board-Certified OB/GYN & Visionary Pioneer in Women’s Health & Wellness

“As women’s experiences become increasingly defining of 21st Century American life, we must bring forward our best ideas for how to support all women to reach their full potential. The Shriver Report helps us both understand the full breadth of women’s experiences, and the solutions that will strengthen opportunity for all of us.”

– Ai-jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

“A new society that works for caregivers will be a society that works for everyone. The Shriver Report broadens the discussion about the lack of women at the top to focus on the vast number of women at risk of plunging to the bottom. Maria Shriver has assembled an impressive group of thinkers, researchers, and writers to focus on a set of issues that are deeply important to all women and to all Americans.”

– Ann-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of the New America Foundation

“The Shriver Report fulfills the necessity for amassing and understanding the extraordinary depth and breadth of the contributions women today provide to our nation, as well as the challenges they confront on a daily basis.  For all of the progress that’s been attained for women in America, we must be ever vigilant and vigorous in protecting those gains and work to address those obstacles and aspirations that remain.  In that light, Maria Shriver’s vision in bringing this project to fruition cannot be overstated.”

– Olympia Snowe, Former Senator Olympia J. Snowe, (R-ME)

“As a mother of three and a business leader, I applaud The Shriver Report for raising a thought-provoking discussion on the realities of what it’s like to be a woman raising a family in the United States today. We can and must do more as a society to support the role of women. It’s a business imperative. It’s a moral imperative.”

– Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo Lead Executive for Small Business & West Coast Regional Banking President

“This 3rd Shriver Report provides a compelling assessment of the critical role women in America are playing as parents and contributors to the US economy. Yet at the same time, more and more of them are falling into poverty. The prescriptions laid out here to reverse this disastrous trend deserve serious attention and action. How we respond will have much to say about our nation’s future.”

– Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security , Former U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Former Chief of Staff to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Co-Founder & Chairwoman, Vital Voices Global Partnership

“I love using The Shriver Report in my classes because it is packed with the latest data, it includes beautifully illustrative graphics and pictures, and it includes compelling personal stories that bring the data to life.  It is ideal to use in the classroom because it covers so many topics.”

– Anmarie Widener, Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, Georgetown University

“It’s time. It’s time that we truly pay attention to the challenges faced by so many American women and children. The latest Shriver Report will bring us the facts, the realities, and now it is up to us to take action. Individually and collectively much can be achieved, especially if we let the stories touch our hearts and direct our resources.”

– Jacki Zehner, CEO Women Moving Millions


Funding Partners





The Roland and Dawn Arnall Foundation

Ann & John Doerr

Shawn Byers

Carsey Family Foundation

Eileen Donahoe

M & F Worldwide Corporation  

Strategic Partners
Media Partners

Center for Economic and Policy Research

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) promotes democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options. Toward this end, CEPR conducts both professional research and public education. CEPR’s Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, CUNY Graduate School and Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Harvard University.

Social Security Works

The mission of Social Security Works is to protect and improve the economic status of disadvantaged and at-risk populations, and, in so doing, to promote social justice for current and future generations of children as well as young, middle-aged and older adults.

Institute for Women’s policy Research (IWPR)

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. The Institute works with policymakers, scholars, and public interest groups to design, execute, and disseminate research that illuminates economic and social policy issues affecting women and their families, and to build a network of individuals and organizations that conduct and use women-oriented policy research. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy and public administration programs at George Washington University.

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. It focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment, and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.

OWL-The Voice of Midlife and Older Women

OWL – the voice of women over 40 — is the only organization that focuses solely on issues that affect women as they age.  We occupy a unique place in Washington D.C., as the trusted resource at the intersection of aging and women’s issues.  OWL is a well-respected organization that understands all sectors of society play valuable roles in the civic discourse, and that we are most successful when we work together.

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Since our founding in 1881, AAUW members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW has a nationwide network of more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and 800 college and university partners.


LIFT is a nonprofit organization working to help lift people out of poverty for good. LIFT pairs rigorously trained advocates with committed community members to build the strong personal, social and financial foundations they need to get ahead. By setting their own goals and working hard to achieve them, LIFT Members are equipped to get a job, a safe home and a quality education for themselves and their kids. They also build a support network, confidence in what they bring to the table and the skills to manage tough times in the future.

LIFT operates resource centers in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington, DC, where members of the community can get help. Nearly 100,000 Members have already committed to do the hard work needed to achieve their goals–and it is working. LIFT is putting an average of $1,300 back into the pockets of struggling families so that they can make ends meet.


CLASP develops and advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels that improve the lives of low-income people. We focus on policies that strengthen families and create pathways to education and work. Through careful research and analysis and effective advocacy, we develop and promote new ideas, mobilize others, and directly assist governments and advocates to put in place successful strategies that deliver results that matter to people across America. For more information, visit and follow @CLASP_DC

Community Action Partnership

Based in Washington, DC, the Community Action Partnership is a national not-for-profit association that provides training, technical assistance, and other services to more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) across America, which cover 99% of the nation’s counties. CAAs help 20 million low-income people and families achieve economic stability and improve their lives. The Community Action network was established in August 1964, with the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Community Action commemorates its 50th anniversary in 2014. For more information, visit Community Action Partnership or follow the organization on Twitter, @CAPartnership and Facebook, Community Action Partnership national office.

The Center for Partnerships Studies

The Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) provides research, education, grassroots empowerment, and policy initiatives for personal, social, and economic change. CPS’ work is aimed at accelerating the shift from domination to partnership systems, based on the bestselling book The Chalice and the Blade. CPS’ two major programs are the Caring Economy Campaign (CEC), with members so far representing 16 million people and inspired by Riane Eisler’s latest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, and the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV), co-founded by Eisler with Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams, which seeks to “break cycles of violence in families – and the family of nations.”

National Partnership for Women and Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.

RESULTS Educational Fund

RESULTS Educational Fund (REF) is a nonprofit citizen’s advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. that is committed to educating the public, the media, and government leaders about issues related to poverty and hunger in the United States and abroad.


Sojourners is a national Christian organization committed to faith in action for social justice. For over 40 years, we have been articulating the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world.

United Methodist Women

United Methodist Women is the largest denominational faith organization for women with approximately 800,000 members whose mission is fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice. Members raise up to $20 million each year for programs and projects related to women, children and youth in the United States and in more than 100 countries around the world.

United Methodist Women and The United Methodist Church’s principles and values include:

• Promoting the empowerment of women, children and youth.

• Promoting anti-racism and multiculturalism.

• Promoting inclusion and equity.

• Promoting fair labor practices.

• Promoting economic and environmental stewardship

Tipping Point

WE ARE ONE COMMUNITY. We believe that the responsibility for fighting poverty belongs to all of us.

WE SERVE. Our approach is humble and respectful. We exist to meet the needs of others.

Every gift counts, whether big or small. WE CELEBRATE GENEROSITY.

We are relentless in the pursuit of our goals. We hold ourselves and each other accountable. WE GET RESULTS.

We are risk takers. We commit to facing our challenges as we support solutions that last. WE ARE ALWAYS LEARNING.

WE Connect was established by former California First Lady Maria Shriver in 2005 and is now run by The California Endowment.  WE Connect joins The Endowment in challenging conventional wisdom that health solely happens in the doctor’s office.  Health Happens in schools, in neighborhoods, and with prevention.  WE Connect helps families learn and connect to important programs that are available to them and may help them lead healthier, more financially secure lives.  Programs like CalFresh and the Women and Children’s Program (WIC) help make access to healthy food a reality for families.  The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps put hard earned money back into the pockets of those who need it most.  Medi-Cal and Healthy Families provide access to affordable preventive care. These are only a few of the available resources you will learn about through WE Connect.

During this challenging economic downturn, WE Connect is bringing together community organizations and businesses, government agencies and state leaders, congregations and schools as partners in responding to the needs for millions of individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet.  Under The Endowment, WE Connect will be able to provide more information and help to families by creating ties with The Endowment’s key initiatives and its Building Healthy Communities Program.  Under our continued partnership with other states, we are reaching more families than ever before with resources that empower them to live their dreams.

WE Connect offers everyone an opportunity to become part of the solution by becoming a ‘Connector;’ someone who helps to spread the word about important resources and volunteer opportunities to serve in their communities.  To become a Connector, click here.


National Advisory Committee
Visit The National Advisory Committee Page

National Advisory Committee members are national thought leaders who contribute to all aspects of our Special Reports based on their years of unique experience and expertise, helping to make them award-winning, ground-breaking, and solutions-oriented examinations of the status of the American women at transformational moments in history. Each member’s community of influence helps amplify our discussion, expanding The Shriver Report network’s reach from coast-to-coast, from University classrooms to the halls of Congress, from the White House to community-based organizations, foundations, businesses, government leaders, and families. As a member of the Advisory Network, participants are asked to involve their affiliated organizations in our research and content development, offer substantive guidance on issues, messaging, and strategies, and to help identify specific solutions that can address the needs of women and families today.

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